Sunday, August 06, 2006
The Ondes Martenot was one of the earliest 20th-century electronic musical instruments, and found favour with composers of avant-garde orchestral works for many years. Now, thanks to Cornish company Analogue Systems, it's getting a new lease of life...
Johnny Greenwood is an outspoken champion of the Ondes Martenot, a very early synthesizer, which he lists as one of his favorite instruments. The Ondes was popularized by French composer Olivier Messiaen, Greenwood's musical idol. Greenwood has composed a piece entitled Smear for a pair of Ondes Martenot. The Ondes can be heard on many Radiohead tracks, notably "The National Anthem", "How to Disappear Completely" from Kid A and "Cymbal Rush" from "The Eraser. Due to the inherent fragility of antique electronic instruments of this type and time period, an analogue keyboard controller developed at Greenwood's behest by the company French Connection is instead utilized during live Radiohead appearances to control his analogue modular synthesizers. In addition, other devices such as the Korg Kaoss Pad have been introduced on newer tracks and integrated into the live shows as well.
Sound on Sound article about the French Connection